Your Reputation is at Stake. Will You Trust the Lowest Bidder?

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Using assistants to help you with your business is an incredible idea. Instead of putting your efforts into the mundane, day to day tasks, you can spend your time on the important things. Many of the gurus are promoting using virtual assistants for everything in real estate these days, but before doing so, proceed carefully.

Virtual Assistants and Social Media Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?

One area of business that people are off-shoring to virtual assistants more often then not, is in social media marketing. I’ll contend that using any kind of virtual assistant for your social media marketing strategy is a risky move.

Of course you want to know why, right?

I was just clicking around the BiggerPockets forums and came upon a few posts from a well known national speaker, who is generally well respected. Of course, I was interested in seeing what they had to say, so I read through their contributions. What I read were posts that were poorly composed and full of grammatical errors. These posts added no value to the discussion, and in fact, were merely a distraction. They were written either by someone with an extremely poor American education (not too hard to imagine, I guess), or by a foreigner. I assumed that someone who has reached the level of success that they have would certainly be a better communicator.

While I have the tools at my disposal to discover that the poster is using a computer in the Philippines, and is not likely the actual “national figure”, others in the community do not. The rest of our 38,000+ (at time of writing) members only see the weak posts coming from this person. This person told me that they were acting on behalf of the speaker, and when we tried to contact the speaker directly, we were ignored.

This Person Outsourced their Reputation and Lost!
Obviously, they are too busy to participate on our site, and probably others as well, so they went out and hired a virtual assistant. What they probably didn’t think about was that your online reputation (and your rep in general) can’t be outsourced.

An assistant can certainly create profiles on social networks for you, but can they communicate with your level of expertise?

Can an assistant represent you, and act as you in a manner that meets your standards?

Social Media is About Connections

The great thing about social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, BiggerPockets, LinkedIn, etc. is that it allows people who may not normally have connected, to do so. That said, if you’re using someone that doesn’t know you or the other person to connect and interact as you with them, then how the hell is there anything personal about it?

Outsourcing your reputation is flat out, a BAD IDEA!

Don’t forget . . . EVERYTHING that this person does on your behalf as they travel throughout social sites as you, reflects upon you. Think about it . . . this person is essentially putting on a mask with your face on it and communicating with others as you. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I wouldn’t trust anyone to do that for me.

So, if you’re thinking about hiring the lowest bidder, the virtual assistant, to eliminate one of the mundane marketing tasks essential to business today, networking and communicating through social media, think again.

Thoughts?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/theladylove/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/nigsby/ / CC BY 2.0

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin (@jrdorkin, Google+) founded BiggerPockets.com when he saw a need for free, trustworthy information about real estate investing online. Over the past 12 years, Josh has grown the site from self-funded hobby to full-time job and passion. Today, BiggerPockets brings together over 600,000 members, housing the world’s largest library of real estate content, iTunes’ #1 real estate podcast, and an array of analysis tools, all geared toward helping users succeed.

11 Comments

  1. Very good points Josh and I couldn’t agree with you more. I am in search of an assistant to write blog posts for me simply because I can’t seem to come up with anything to write. I wouldn’t want a stranger to do my social networking but I do see the usefulness of someone else writing for me and I then read, approve and post it myself.

    Any comments on that would be appreciated.

    • Dick –
      Thanks for your thoughts. I can see the usefulness of having a VA write for you, provided you do read, approve, and post yourself. I’d want them to be well versed in the topic, and extremely resourceful. Interview, interview, interview!

  2. Right on. I am from the Philippines and yes, I do reputation management and social media updates for my clients. The difference is that they have specific instructions laid out and of course, been approved before sent out in the wells of the internet.

    I am sorry that you had to investigate and see that it was from a Filipino like me but I hope there is no generalization here.

    • Fleire – I wasn’t disparaging all Filipinos or all Filipino virtual assistants – just the ones who do a crappy job, and that goes for VAs from everywhere on earth. I was merely pointing out that the nationally known speaker from the USA is clearly not living in your country, and the person acting on their behalf was certainly not either a) a native speaker or b) as highly educated as the speaker I was referring to. I don’t do generalizations . . .

      That said, I don’t care if someone gives you specific instructions, you’ll still NEVER be a good replacement for the person you are acting on behalf of, for the reasons I mentioned in the post. That is not meant to be an insult, just fact. Just turn it around . . . give me great instructions and I’ll never be able to act on your behalf as good as you could do it yourself, despite my education, background, or experiences.

      Thanks for the comments though, and good luck with your business!

  3. Laurie Morgan on

    I think it depends on the role you establish for your outsourced provider. A marketing agency is a different thing from a virtual assistant. Professional marketers can often do as good — or better! — as you would do yourself. It costs a little more … but, as you point out, your reputation is worth it.

  4. Great article. I’ve never heard of virtual assistants but I had a full time one that I used to make do a lot of hands on stuff that I should have done. I released her from her job and she is a great real estate agent now. I’m back into doing the voice to voice and face to face and besides paying better dividends, makes me more aware of my business from a day to day action instead of month to month. Integration. Thanks for your insight and article. I like your style.

    • Thomas –
      Thanks for the complement. I appreciate it. Being the face and voice of your own company is an EXTREMELY important thing. Feet on the ground gives you a much better perspective than reading what is going on from a weekly/monthly memo, IMO.

  5. Josh,

    Great point. I have been considering a personal assitant but I have had employee’s before. The only reason you should hire someone is to save you time by relieving you from the mundane tasks. I find, however, it is so time consuming to instruct, oversee, and correct employees that I have just continued doing it myself.

    Picking up an assitant is not a move that should be taken lightly. This is a great post to make people take the time to consider if an assitant, specifically a virtual one, is worth the “ALL” the costs.

    Justin

    • Hey Josh,

      Instead of hiring VAs for your business, have you ever considered hiring interns? Instead of paying them an hourly wage, I just pay them on a commission base (20-50% of the profits of the deals that come through them). I work with about 13 interns all across the country. Now, I’m really starting to see the value of interns and how building a team of them can really take your business to a whole new level.

      VAs can be a big waste of time and money. The great thing about interns is, the worst that could happen is that you get a bad intern (I’ve had quite a few.) But in that case, just hire another one (or a couple more.) There’s no limit to how many you can work with and you don’t need to pay them unless they make money (in which case you both make money.)

      I have a recently been helping other people hire their own interns by giving them all the files and resources that I use to hire and manage my interns (job descriptions, interview script, email templates, list of tasks, etc.) I’d be more than willing to share any and all these files with you or anyone else that desires them.

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